Directed by: Keenen Ivory Wayans
Starring: Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Tim Curry, Chris Elliott
Not wishing me to tackle this weighty cinematic offering unprepared, a kind soul brought me a copy of the original laugh riot that is Scary Movie. In a sense, I'm glad, if only because I can attest to the fact that -- incredible as it may seem -- the egregious Scary Movie 2 actually improves upon its predecessor. Then again, Dude, Where's My Car? improves upon Scary Movie. More incredible still is the fact that Scary Movie 2 boasts no less than seven writers. On the one hand, this isn't hard to believe because the script positively reeks of having been done by a committee. What is hard to believe is that not one of these writers questioned the wisdom of any aspect of this project. That one could find seven people who could agree that no joke is too low and no gag too tasteless to qualify for inclusion in the film is the sort of miraculous occurrence on which a religion might be founded. That not one of the magnificent seven insisted his or her name be removed from the credits is perhaps more remarkable still. Yet for all this, Scary Movie 2 often manages to be funny ... disgusting, adolescent, sophomoric, but funny. One thing that helps raise the film slightly above its predecessor is that Scary Movie 2 isn't too firmly grounded in parodying one film (the execrable Scream) and its offshoots (I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc.). This round there are echoes of everything from Poltergeist to Re-Animator to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and beyond, while the plot itself -- when the film remembers it has one -- is drawn from The Legend of Hell House. The film opens with a particularly good -- and extremely gross -- parody of The Exorcist (with a nod to The Amityville Horror), and it's almost worth the price of admission just to witness James Wood (assuming the Max Von Sydow role of exorcist) as he reacts to the 360 degree head-spin. Unfortunately, the film bogs down almost at once after this and just goes along on a series of riffs on various horror movies, none of which are anywhere near as pointed and effective as the opening. Some bits hit, others miss. Nearly all are shamelessly childish and crude, but that's pretty much the point in a case like this. The worst of it is that the film boasts a true giant of horror/fantasy (even if for only one iconic role) in its cast, with Rocky Horror's Tim Curry as the professor who lures the unsuspecting college students to the sinister house where the proceedings take place -- and offers him almost nothing to do. The focus is first and foremost on the young talent, most of whom offer more enthusiasm than actual skill. By far the most interesting thing about the movie is the fact that it must have been in production almost up to its release date, since the script manages to incorporate surprisingly recent material. There are gags based on (dear Lord) Dude, Where's My Car? (this one's actually funny), Hannibal and the missing Dade County ballots from the Florida presidential election. This may in part account for Scary Movie 2's innate messiness -- gags being fit in at the last moment to goose the movie and make it more topical. Other signs of late-in-the-day tampering are also in evidence, such as a scene played out in a room with a vast quantity of unexplained blood on the floor. Whether any of this really matters or not is a moot point. Scary Movie 2 is so utterly disposable that anything like craftsmanship would be superfluous. It's here today, gone tomorrow and forgotten even more quickly.